Despite any roadblocks created to disrupt our accessibility to the truth, we will not stop reporting.
Last week, student journalists were told if they wanted a relationship with USC communications, they needed to contact USC public relations prior to filming COVID-19 testing on Davis Field. It is our right to pursue the facts and cover events happening in public areas.
The Student Press Law Center confirmed reporters do not need permission to film or photograph events happening within public view, even if they are of a medical nature. USC should not threaten to revoke media accessibility to preserve its own image.
The Daily Gamecock is an organization composed entirely of students. We have invested in this university — both financially and personally — and are directly affected by the actions the administration takes, whether good or bad. Our identity as students precedes our identity as journalists. As much as our newspaper is modeled after longstanding professional publications, it is also continually evolving to better reflect a diverse and changing student community — one that we are also a part of.
USC shows its commitment to a free press by allowing the very existence of our student newspaper, which is funded by both the student activity fee and our advertising revenue, but USC administrators must continue to display this commitment through their actions.
Editorial independence means that USC cannot censor what we write. While we do not seek to malign the university that we ourselves are a part of, we will present the actions and decisions of the administration with objectivity. It is not our responsibility to act as a public relations team for the university, but to share information that is factual and relevant to students.
Because we care about this university, we will always aim to hold it accountable.
While we seek transparency in our reporting, we will not always have all the details. Sometimes, our questions for the university will go unanswered. We will not stop asking them.
We will continue to seek the truth even when interviews are monitored, when sources are slim and when student journalists are told to stop reporting.
Communications on behalf of the university have made it difficult for us to fulfill our role of presenting critical information to the student body. Contact with much of the administration has been restricted to a single person, making some data and sources inaccessible.
We will not lower our standards of accuracy to accommodate a lack of information, but will instead continue to seek the truth. We will be transparent about how many times we reached out to a source and what type of interview we obtained our information through. If we cannot obtain direct and accurate sourcing for a story, we will not run it, regardless of its relevance.
We are still learning. We will make mistakes. In our commitment to accurate reporting, we will openly acknowledge and aim to correct any of these inevitable errors.
We simply ask that you continue to hold us accountable. Student media is intended to create a dialogue between students, university administration and the community. The intersection of our identities as students and journalists allows us to write about decisions that directly affect us.
Finally, remember that we are your peers. We’re sitting next to you in class, walking past you on the Horseshoe and struggling through finals with you. We want to hear your stories, your struggles and your opinions. If you feel strongly about something happening in our community or on our campus, we encourage you to join our commitment to covering everything USC. Send us a tip, write us a guest column or even join our staff. If nothing else, know that we are here to listen to and share your voice.